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Before I started the plank challenge, I knew my midsection had gotten flabbier since I cancelled my gym membership to save money.
I was also too lazy to do a lot of ab workouts because they required me to put my back on the ground, which could be cold, dirty, wet, or all of the above, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Not to mention, I was blogging and writing more than ever.
This meant that I was sitting down, A LOT.
The abs and core strength I worked so hard for while living on the farm was going away.
I started feeling more subconscious in public as my belly bloat would occasionally push the T-Shirt out.
It also doesn’t help that my family puts A TON of sugar and salt in just about everything, and if I am to keep saving money by eating their food instead of buying my own, I had to suck it up and eat it.
“These GIFs are dope, but get to the point already about how the plank challenge is like investing!” you scream.
Okay, okay, we’re almost there. Just hold on a little bit longer 🙂
Luckily, one day while perusing MSN News (my go-to place for a variety of news), I happened upon the clickbait title, “I Did a 2-Minute Plank Every Day For 2 Weeks – Here’s What Happened” by Dominque Astorino.
Dying to know what happened, I clicked on it, hook, line, and sinker.
After reading about all the benefits of her plank challenge, I decided to give it a try.
What inspired me to write about this was my surprise one morning when I woke up and saw in the mirror that when I felt fat and bloated from the lack of sleep, my bad eating habits, and stress from my job and daily life, my stomach was still skinnier, flatter, and firmer than before I started the challenge.
Of course, the flabbiness of my belly still fluctuates here and there, but overall, my core feels stronger, even if it doesn’t look stronger.
Transparency: I also jogged, did pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups throughout the day during breaks from work. So I can’t just attribute the firmer core to the planking alone.
What Does This Have To Do With Investing?
You bring up a good question.
I noticed here are some of the ways the plank challenge is a lot like investing for financial independence.
You Feel More Confident
Dominque Astorino mentioned how the plank challenge helped her realize that there are small victories we can win throughout the day, and to realize that it’s not just about winning the BIG victories.
Big victories are made up on smaller victories.
You can start even smaller than the 2 minute plank challenge by doing, say, 30 seconds a day for 14 days.
Then you build up confidence and roll the momentum into bigger wins.
By successfully completing the 2-minute plank challenge, even though it took me 16 days because I missed some days, I had the boost of confidence that comes with the self-assurance of knowing that I completed something challenging and worthwhile.
Which led me to try 2:30 minute planks, even though they were always a challenge for me to do.
You can apply this confidence to investing for financial independence.
For example, the idea of having $1,000,000 in investments might be scary for you because you’re thinking, “Oh crap, when will I ever reach it? I’m only at $0.”
I’ve been there.
I remember the purgatorial feeling of taking almost a whole year trying to get to my first $10,000 in investments.
“Gosh, if it took me this long, how long will it take me to get to a million so I can reach financial independence and travel on the 4% rule as mentioned by the Millennial Revolution?”
But if you can manage to start small, even if it’s super small, you can build on that initial confidence into something bigger.
Not to be pedantic.
I’ll share with you a story on how I built up the confidence to invest more to reach financial independence.
It was October 2013.
I took the year off from college to “find myself” by traveling the world.
I quickly ran out of money and worked at H&M as a sales associate.
This was before I discovered KonMari minimalism so I still loved spending money on clothes to clutter my closet 😅
So saving up money to invest didn’t really happen.
They inspired me not only to start my own side hustle to make extra money, but also to get my feet wet with investing for passive income.
The idea was for my passive income to be enough so I could escape the drudgery of the rat race and reach a level where I had the freedom to travel whenever, wherever I wanted (escapism much?), and never run out of money again.
After searching on google for how to invest in the stock market, I found E*Trade.
Armed with what little money I saved up, naiveté, and arrogance (a bad combination), I put in the minimum needed to open an account, $500, and dived right in to stock trading.
I got scared when a stock dropped in price and quickly sold out.
When a stock went up, I bought it for the greedy promise of more profits.
Sadly, I lost almost all of the money I put into E*Trade because of my rampant trading, which cost $10 per trade (this was before Robinhood came unto the scene).
Not so sadly, the lesson I learned from this was that I wasn’t a good stock trader and should look for more passive investing for the long term.
I found Vanguard, but their S&P500 index mutual fund had a $3,000 minimum opening requirement.
Long story short, I didn’t have the money and spent the majority of 2014 working part time while going back to college.
In November of 2014, I managed to finally open my first Vanguard mutual fund!
But it took A YEAR of saving, dollar by dollar, until I was able to open an account.
It CAN be done.
Just start small, and roll the momentum into something bigger.
Small wins become bigger wins.
On a side note: I now have around 3-4 different investment accounts to diversify my income streams from different markets and sectors.
We all have to start somewhere!
Your Worst Day Today Is Better Than Your Best Day Yesterday
This tweet by Four Pillar Freedom struck a chord with me because it’s something that I wasn’t consciously thinking about, but made so much sense.
People spend all their time worrying about how the stock market crash will hurt their investments and they’ll lose all their money.
But when put in perspective, if you spend money on something you don’t need, whether the stock market drops or not, you “lost” all the money you spent on that thing because its value to you is zero (assuming: you don’t sell it, or you throw it out).
Whereas, if you put money in the stock market, and over 10 years it’s up 100%, but out of nowhere it drops 25%, the value of your stock after the drop is still higher than before you invested the money.
If the stock market drops 50%, you still have all the money you put into it.
If it drops 80%, well that sucks.
But at least you still have the 20% left, versus 0% left after throwing out the thing you spent money on but didn’t use.
It’s like with the plank challenge when I woke up one morning and was like, “Holy crap! My stomach is flatter than it has been in a while! Woo hoo! And I still feel bloated but don’t look it! Double woo hoo!”
One day, it will be, “Oh crap! The stock market just dropped 80 FREAKING Percent, but I still have a least a million dollars in value so I can still live comfortably off the passive dividend stream because I didn’t let lifestyle creep/inflation get to me. Woo hoo!”
Can’t Judge A book by Its Cover
There’s a certain feeling of self-satisfaction that comes with knowing that I can now do a 2 minute plank easily, a 2:30 minute plank decently, and maybe a 3 minute plank if I superrrrrr challenge myself.
After I finish my 2:30 minute challenge, I aim to increase it to a 3 minute plank for 2 weeks.
What does any of this have to do with judging a book?
Well, the planks haven’t really changed the outward appearance of my core.
If anything, the ab workouts are probably helping me more than the planks.
But the planks help strengthen my inner core.
To apply this idea to investing for financial independence, it’s all internal.
When your investments get bigger and bigger, you might not look any different compared to when you first started investing.
But you’ll have more and more confidence and self-assurance that you are financially stronger than when you first started.
Anyone who looks at you will probably see your same old frugal self, but they won’t see the mountains of money you have in the bank.
You might have already observed this yourself, heard about it from others, or even read about it in The Millionaires Next Door about how sometimes, the richest among us, don’t look it.
The strongest plankers among us, might not look it.
Let’s aim for that 😆🙈👀
There Will Be Hard Days
There were times when I was like, “Man, this sucks!”
My abs were killing me and my mind was shouting “When is the timer going to go off!?”
But this uncomfortability means I’m growing out of my comfort zone and I should welcome it with open arms if I want to improve myself.
I remember a quote from John C. Maxwell’s book, No Limits: Blow The CAP Off Your Capacity.
It went something like, “There’s no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone.”
“There’s no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone.”
There might be days that you think “I can’t possibly save that much money. I have all these bills to pay.”
And you’re right.
You do have all those bills to pay.
You’re at least acknowledging your challenges.
My challenge was that my core was starting to get soft from sitting all day.
I don’t like doing ab workouts.
AND, being the millennial that I am, I want a beach body where I can take off my shirt with abandon and feel great doing so.
In other words: I want to be able to enjoy myself fully and experience life as life enjoys itself.
Completely raw and unfiltered. Wild. Unruly. Beautiful. Majestic.
It’s like investing.
You want to have that passive income stream coming in.
It’s hard to save up money initially because your “saving-muscles” are weak from lack of use.
But you want to walk into any store and be able to buy anything with abandon and not feel financially self-conscious afterward.
You Want To Challenge Yourself To Grow
I started with 2 minutes because it seemed realistic to me.
One of my friends can do it for 3 minutes at a time but he’s also a gymnast.
So it all depends on where you are physically.
Back to investing.
It Depends On Where You Are In Life
One of my core values is family.
To be able to enjoy time with my family.
Treat them to food. Laugh. Take care of them when I can.
I’ve started giving back to my family more than ever.
You can look at this as investing in building stronger family connections and emotional ties.
In the past year, I’ve treated my parents to more dinners than I have ever done before.
I get a sense of satisfaction knowing that I am financially comfortable enough to do so, and to be able to give back to them for all the decades that they’ve spent supporting me with food, money, shelter.
You might think it’s not much, but right now, I aim to put a minimum of 1% of every after-tax paycheck into my “Gift to family” Ally Bank Saving’s account.
That way, during the month, my savings are accruing interest.
At the time of this writing, Ally Bank offers an annual savings rate of 1.60% now! WOW!
At the end of the month, I look for ways to gift, or “spend” this money on experiences that my family can enjoy.
Because my parents don’t like outdoor physical activities, I gift/spend/invest that 1% in the form of food.
Even if it’s not much and I can’t take them out eating, I’ll at least try to buy groceries and we cook a meal at home 😄
It’s a nice affordable way to still have a meal and be together and share experiences together.
And, just like increasing my plank time to 2:30 minutes from 2:00, in the future, I aim to increase this “Give back to family” percentage when my income is higher.
The reason why I say all of this is it depends on where you are in your stage of life is because if you can only do 30 second planks, then do that.
If you can only put away .50% of your monthly income into a “Give Back” fund, then do that.
It’s all better than zero, right?
Just build up the courage and momentum to increase the amount to challenge yourself.
Schedule It To Make It Happen
To make it all happen, you have to schedule it. Or at least plan it out.
“Blurry visions get blurry results,” a wise man once said in an inspirational YouTube video.
I noticed that I was much less likely to plank if it wasn’t on my calendar.
Luckily, I had also just finished reading “The Power of Full Engagement” by Loehr and Shwartz and they said that in order to make things happen, you need to schedule for it.
So I scheduled plank sessions into my day.
Once I scheduled the rest of the days ahead of time to include plank sessions, I was more likely to do them.
Because once they’re on the calendar, I would feel guilty if I didn’t do it by the end of the day.
Applying This To Investing
You can schedule your investments if you have a predictable salary.
David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, recommends scheduling automatic withdrawals from your checking account after every payroll deposit, so it’s out of sight, out of mind.
You’ll also be less likely to skip or miss a day if it happens automatically.
I prefer to manually invest money because, sometimes, I might want to change percentages of the allocations that week.
You do whatever floats your boat to make it happen.
Investing For Financial Independence
One of the tenets of financial independence, as preached by Kiyosaki, is that the cash flow from your investments are more than enough to cover all of your expenses.
When that point happens, you’re FREE.
It doesn’t have to be in stocks or mutual funds either.
Guy on FIRE uses real estate to produce his passive income stream.
I worked with someone from New Zealand who rents out her family’s cows to dairy farmers for monthly income streams.
So it depends on your comfort zone, resources, and life situations.
If you don’t have any savings to invest, you can start with 1% as mentioned above.
And because commissions can cost anywhere from $4.95 to $10 a trade and eat into your profits, that’s why I trade for free on Robinhood.
You can use my link (here) and Robinhood will give us both a free stock of Ford, Apple, or Sprint (as of this writing. Might be subject to change).
Right now, I’m putting away about $50-$100 a month into Robinhood to experiment with building a portfolio of high dividend paying stocks, to see if I can build enough for a passive income stream for the future.
You definitely want to schedule your priorities instead of prioritizing your schedule based on the emergencies of the day.
If it’s challenging, it means you’re growing.
You’re stepping out of your comfort zone where everything is easy and into your growth zone, where things are challenging.
With investing, it might be hard and it might feel like it’s taking forever. But just keep at it.
There might be days where you don’t have enough money to invest.
There might be days where you forgot because you were too busy (assuming you don’t have automatic investing set up).
But you just have to keep at it.
Because then, you’ll reach a point where your worst day now is still better than your best day then.
Thank you for reading,
Silly video of me on Day 5/14 of the 2:30 minute, 2 week plank challenge.
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